There we were. Three lads and two girls on a lawn in the more than decent weather we’ve had lately. Between us was a green low wheelbarrow with a treasure in it; beer, and food, books and a portable music system. The wheelbarrow stood beside the gate to the place we used it. With not a person in sight anywhere, we borrowed it to move our goodies from the car in one go – except Mark nearly tipped everything over at one point.

Halfway between this town I live in and the coast to the south, there is an old tree. An oak which I’m sure is old enough to have had contemporaries of Wordsworth and Hazlitt threaten it under the hoofs as a sapling. That tree is our tree, and we end up sitting beneath it every couple of months.

On the second or third time we sat beneath it, Mark and I carved our name into the bark, and when we come back we ‘repair’ the the growth or wear of it. It’s our tree, with our mark. We don’t have to say anything about it when we park the car beneath it and get out. One of us heads over to check the carving.

And now we shared it, all five of us, without saying much. There was the buzz of the insects, the sun in the sky, the grass beneath our blankets, and a cow chewing crud on the other side of a fence. Since Stephen has to go on a work interview tomorrow, he was the designated driver.

We can do this because while we still have some classes, the tests and the reports and the essays are done for this year. Now we wait for the results to come back, and then I’ll see if I can continue here. Which I should be allowed to. And, in the meantime, there’s summer ahead, and there’s the tree in the field, and the carving in the bark to keep up, and there are friends to see and picnics to eat.

Good times. Unless we ever get caught nicking wheelbarrows that stand beside the stone walls that separate the fields. Or unless the owner of the field comes, irate that these city kids invade his bucolic pastures and nick his tools. But there’s a path across the field, so unless someone says we can’t, we’ll just assume that we can use the path. And the tree.

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